Sure You Don’t Want to Name it Simon & Schyster?

Simon and Schuster Logo MashupOkay, so here’s what happened in Publishing Land today:  Simon & Schuster announced that they jumped into bed with Author Solutions, forming yet another imprint run by Kevin Weiss et al. They’re calling it Archway Publishing.

So, to clarify: Pearson who owns Penguin who merged with Random House and owns Author Solutions Inc. is now working with their competitor, Simon & Schuster. Yes, for real. The New York Times adds:

“One odd twist of the deal is that Author Solutions was purchased by the British publishing giant Pearson in July. Pearson has made Author Solutions part of Penguin, a Simon & Schuster competitor. But since Simon & Schuster was already far along in the planning with Author Solutions for the new brand, they decided to go forward anyway, [Adam] Rothberg said.”

The Times also reports that Simon & Schuster wants to “distinguish Archway as a premium service, at a premium cost to the authors.”

Distinguish it from what, I wonder? Perhaps from all of Author Solutions’ other already overpriced brands and partnerships—names like Author House, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, Palibrio, Publish in the USA, Abbott Press, Balboa, WestBow, Inspiring Voices, Legacy Keepers, FuseFrame, Pitchfest, Author Learning Center, WordClay, BookTango and AuthorHive?

By charging $1,599 to $24,999 for packages, Simon & Schuster’s Archway may well succeed in distinguishing themselves as the most laughably overpriced self-publishing option available. But I can’t imagine the words “premium service” becoming the hallmark of this hookup. You see, S&S is taking a hands-off approach to the whole thing. Again, quoting from the Times:

“While the venture promises to access the expertise of a major publishing house, it will be completely operated and staffed by Author Solutions. With no Simon & Schuster personnel involved, and without the Simon & Schuster name attached in any way to the final product, Archway’s prices – significantly higher than even the most expensive competition – could be a hard sell.” [emphasis mine]

And we all know about Author Solutions’ reputation for great customer service and quality, right? I mean, are these people for real? Let’s run down the litany of complaints against ASI one more time to make sure we’re all on the same page. From an earlier post:

“The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breech of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Anywho…

I admit I scratched my head over the Pearson/Penguin buyout of Author Solutions this summer. But with this S&S deal, I think I’ve carved an inch-long notch out of my skull with my fingernail. They’re effectively letting their competition run their self-publishing show. And all they have to say about it is that they were so far along in the branding process they didn’t want to turn back?

Add that to the list of things I won’t be buying from Archway Publishing.

About Emily Suess

Emily Suess is a technical marketing writer by day and a freelance copywriter by night. And, no, she's not related to Dr. Seuss.